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Lathkill Head Cave Top Entrance, Derbyshire

Lathkill Head Cave Top Entrance near Monyash, Derbyshire

19 October 2008

A dry vertical entrance above the limestone gorge of Lathkill Dale that drops into the Waiting Room, Lathkiller Hall and the farther reaches of Lathkill Head Cave, the resurgence entrance to which is a large obvious cave entrance in Lathkill Dale itself.

Weather conditions:
Dry, although there had been much rain in recent weeks.

How to find it:
A permissive route has been agreed along the top of Lathkill Dale; details can be found in the essential CCPC Peak District Rigging Guide. From the obvious route down into the dale, there's a stile with an "access land" marker next to a five bar gate and a track leading uphill alongside a wall. Follow this and cross a couple of fields. Through a field gate turn left and head downhill towards Lathkill Dale; the lidded entrance is close to a hawthorn tree.

Access - BCA insured cavers only, maximum of 6 per party - ensure you sign & date the log book in the cave. A standard Derbyshire key (adjustable spanner) may be required to undo the nut on the metal lid.

Kit required:
Minimum 36m rope, half a dozen krabs, long sling for deviation on 2nd pitch. A short sling is very useful to wrap around the metal spike at the head of the 1st pitch to give a bomb-proof anchor for this side of the Y-hang.


The metal-lidded entrance opens onto a short free-climbable ginged shaft; however, it's wise to rig a handline in case of a slip; belay from the metal spike near the entrance (when facing the entrance, looking directly uphill, this is close to the upper left corner of the lid). A short wriggle drops into a more roomy space, from which the rope in the entrance climb makes a handy traverse/backup for rigging the first pitch; rig a Y-hang from the big stal thread and the in-situ metal spike. The pitch opens out to give a pleasant drop to a sloping muddy ledge around a hole in the floor which is the top of the second pitch. Belay to the twin anchors below the metal spike and use a LONG sling to provide a deviation on the opposite wall. Descend carefully, advising anyone below to keep well clear as there is much loose debris especially at the head of pitch 2 (one of us got hit by a rock falling without warning from part way down pitch 1 whilst derigging on this trip). Admire the marvellous display of pristine white formations as you descend into the Waiting Room, an impressively large chamber. Follow the taped path from the foot of the entrance pitch to enter the boulder choke. A couple of vertical climbs down through the choke have plenty of hidden footholds but require caution. At the bottom of the boulder choke, there's a small "chamber" with more good formations; crawl through a low wide passage for a couple of metres to emerge in Lathkiller Hall. Depending on the time of year and recent rainfall, there may or may not be a stream flowing along the floor here. When we visited on 2nd September, the stream was well below the boulders and not really visible; in October, there was a decent stream flowing through the entire passage. Treat with respect; this cave floods!

Descending the second pitch of Lathkill Head Top Entrance into the Waiting Room

Descending the second pitch of Lathkill Head Top Entrance into the Waiting Room

The dark, decorated stream passage in Lathkiller Hall, Lathkill Head Cave

The dark, decorated stream passage in Lathkiller Hall, Lathkill Head Cave